City councilman J. David Thomas

Thomas family commits $12,000 to SYCC expansion in memory of Michael Zebuhr

BUCKHANNON – Thanks to two large donations – one from a local corporation and another from the family of a longtime city councilman – the Stockert Youth & Community Center’s capital campaign has topped $260,000, Buckhannon City Council learned Thursday.

At its most recent meeting on Dec. 20, Mayor David McCauley announced the local branch of Weyerhaeuser Company had donated $10,000 to the campaign, which aims to raise at least $400,000 to build a new multi-use gymnasium/auditorium addition to the recently renamed SYCC.

In addition, David Thomas and his children recently decided to commit $12,000 to the campaign in honor of the late Michael Alexander Zebuhr, a Buckhannon-Upshur High School graduate who was close friends with Thomas’ son, John David, and his daughter, Kasie.

The two donations together total $22,000, putting the campaign at over $260,000 – well over the stated halfway mark of $200,000.

“We’ve received two more substantial capital campaign donations totaling $22,000 from councilman Thomas and Weyerhaeuser,” McCauley told council Thursday. “That puts us up over the $260,000 now for our capital campaign. Mr. Thomas, we commend you. Is there anything you’d like to say?”

Thomas said he and his family decided donating to the SYCC cause was an appropriate way to memorialize and honor the life of 25-year-old Zebuhr, who was fatally shot while visiting family in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, more than 10 years ago.

A graduate of Davis & Elkins College, Zebuhr had been completing doctoral work at Clemson University in South Carolina at the time of his death, according to Thomas and multiple media outlets.

Of his family’s decision, Thomas said, “Well, I think all of us in our lives need people that have an absolute positive impact on us and our families, and Michael Alexander Zebuhr was an individual that was outstanding. He was killed up in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, a number of years ago, and he was on a full fellowship for bio-sciences. He was best friends with my son, John David, my oldest daughter, Kasie, and also Evan Smith.

“We had talked about that we had wanted to memorialize him in a way that made sense for our community,” Thomas added. “He was an outstanding athlete at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, a wrestler and in football. He had three majors, and I can’t remember them right now, but they were in math, physics, biology and chemistry.

“He was a very smart young man. I think when we think of the capital campaign for Stockert and other organizations that mean a lot to us – whether it’s the Parish House or Salvation Army, or other organizations and churches and so forth – that there’s those of us that have had some resources and have been blessed in our lives, and if you can do something to help the community, I think that’s very important,” Thomas said, adding he “do more” in the future to support SYCC’s addition.

Thomas commended Weyerhaeuser on their $10,000 contribution as well.

“I’m hoping we can get this Stockert thing going fairly soon,” he remarked. “I want to thank the people who have committed funds to this, and I hope we’ll get a bunch more.”

McCauley noted SYCC’s 25th anniversary will take place in 2019.

The basic project is expected to cost roughly $400,000 and will be a separate facility from, but connected to, SYCC’s current location on East Main Street.

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